Big School - Then and Now

Posted on 27 June 2016

Can you remember the Belgrade Theatre coming to perform at your school? Were you inspired to think differently after taking part in a TiE production or workshop? Perhaps you recognize yourself or a classmate in one of these photos?

Throughout Summer 2016, over 1,500 pupils from over 30 Coventry and Warwickshire primary schools have been given to opportunity to participate in Big School, the Belgrade’s annual TiE project which ran for three weeks between Mon 6th June – Fri 1st July.

Big School has been running since 1998 and is the Belgrade’s annual TiE production which explores the issue of transition from Primary to Secondary school Currently run on an annual basis, Big School was originally commissioned with the aim of helping Year Six pupils deal with this key transition, exploring the challenges children face when moving from being the oldest year group in a school to being the youngest in a large, unfamiliar space, with new teachers, new friends, new subjects and a daunting new building to navigate.

The ground-breaking TiE movement was first pioneered by the Belgrade in 1965 as a way to use theatre and drama to create a range of learning opportunities for young people. Actor-teachers from the Belgrade would tour local schools where they would perform short pieces of theatre and lead workshops that allowed students to explore important issues and ideas in active and creative ways.

The TiE movement soon spread to theatres across the UK, and then to broader contexts across the globe, inspiring a wide range of participatory theatre with children and young people, encouraging and empowering children to investigate challenging situations for themselves.

Commenting on this year’s Big School project, our Associate Director Justine Themen said: _’The transition from primary to secondary school can be a tremendously challenging time in the life of a child and if it doesn’t go well, can have a lasting impact of a child’s achievement and well-being’ _

‘Work on transition is often about telling children what they need to expect when they make the step up to secondary school. Projects such as Big School are about giving young people the opportunity to explore the challenges that they may encounter and come up with their own ideas as to how to meet those challenges. Grown-ups can sometimes forget that children are dealing with change all the time and are often very resourceful. We need to support children to access the resourcefulness within themselves at this important time in their lives. The Big School project is an integral part of our Community & Education programme and we are very proud to have helped many thousands of local young children with the difficult transition’.

You can find out more about the history of Big School by visiting the C & E pages of our website.